Occupy Seattle, get free pizza; protests cost city $105,000 so far

Oct 19, 2011

As the Occupy Wall Street Movement snowballs, small business owners, who employ just over half of all private sector employees in the nation, say they’re a part of the 99%, too.

It’s 5 o’clock in Seattle’s Westlake Park – the beating heart of the local Occupy Wall Street movement—and Jennifer Fox and some fellow teenage occupiers are smoking hand rolled cigarettes. They’re waiting for the free pizza.

"They come out of nowhere sometimes, so when they say, 'Pizza,' then we all charge because we don’t know (how many there will be), said Fox, who also happens to be homeless.

And just like that, Brad Tutmarc, shows up on the other side park with two large pizza boxes. The kids take off.

It's total chaos around Tutmarc as he tries to hand out single slices. Both boxes are gone within seconds and Tutmarc is left standing alone.

Main Street Alliance

He works for Big Mario’s, a bar and pizza restaurant on Capitol Hill owned by David Meinert who said he's "definitely part of the 99%."

Meinert is a member of the Main Street Alliance, a national network of small business coalitions, who from coast to coast are showing their support for the protesters.   

Like a lot of other business owners Meinert is soured by his lack of access to credit from banks. He said he applied for a loan recently and was rejected within 12 hours. There was no explanation and no one to speak to. He's beyond frustrated he said.

“They ignore the needs of people like me who are successful, employ a lot of people, open up new businesses and create jobs." Not everyone who has a shop to run can take the time to protest Meinert said, but it’s imperative for small business owners to get involved.

That’s why Big Mario’s started dropping off free cheese and pepperoni pies. Now, it’s morphed into discounts for people who want to donate free pizzas to the occupiers.

Cost to the city

The Seattle Times reported this morning that the Occupy Seattle protests have cost the city $104,869 in overtime through last Friday, according to figures released Wednesday.

Police overtime — $97,200 — accounts for most of the expense. The cost to Parks and Recreation reached $5,936 with the Finance and Administrative Services Department totaling $1,733 in overtime.

Good for business?

Sure it's good for business, he said. It gets the Big Mario's name out there, but it's about supporting the community.

And protesters like David Smith, who said he's been here since the beginning? He doesn't feel the slightest bit co-opted.

“I’ve gone to Big Mario’s before but I’m not gonna go more often just cause they’ve been donating pizza’s.”    

He would, however, like a few more toppings.

Stuff the city confiscated

Seattle’s Publicola reports that sixty six bags of property seized by parks department cleanup crews at Westlake Park during the Occupy Seattle protests are sitting unclaimed in a storage facility in Ballard.

A city official told Publicola the items – ”primarily tents, blankets, sleeping bags, tables and chairs and some clothing” – will be held for 60 days, just as they do when city workers clear out homeless encampments. So, people can go claim their things.

On the Web: